Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Mystery of the Missing Atoms

question-markLet’s see if you can see what I see. It’s kind of a mystery.
This is from the New York Times

But with the shrinking of the industry, coal interests “are losing their clout, and they’re not going to get it back,” Mr. Goodell said. “It’s becoming clear where the future is going. The politically smart thing is to jump on the renewables bandwagon.”
Goodell is Jeff Goodell, author of the 2006 book “Big Coal: The Dirty Secret Behind America’s Energy Future.”
Let’s try another one. Same thing as above, this time from the Hill.
We’re thrilled about any opportunity to replace coal directly with renewable energy, because the whole idea of natural gas as a bridge fuel has become debunked as we get more and more understanding of how bad natural gas is, and how ready to go renewable energy is,” said Julian Boggs, the global warming outreach director for Environment America. “Deploying as much renewable energy as possible is essential to solving global warming. Natural gas can’t solve global warming.”
These are both about the Clean Power Plan. We’ll let the coal and renewable folks take care of themselves. It’s just that this death of coal/birth of renewables meme seems much too binary, with Mr. Boggs having no trouble throwing natural gas onto the island of misfit energy types.
But can you replace base load energy – and a lot of it – with intermittent renewable energy? And is natural gas the only conceivable solution? Could there be – something else?

What could that be? – and emission free – and base load energy, to boot. Hydro, maybe? That’s pretty tapped out – you could call it peak water, but really, it’s the environmental hurtles of building new dams that make a difference. Surely this complex tangle of a mystery requires superb sleuthing abilities to resolve.

Let’s try one more story, this one from Bloomberg, to see if this crime against electricity can be solved.
The race for renewable energy has passed a turning point. The world is now adding more capacity for renewable power each year than coal, natural gas, and oil combined. And there's no going back.

Solar, the newest major source of energy in the mix, makes up less than 1 percent of the electricity market today but could be the world’s biggest single source by 2050, according to the International Energy Agency.
The story has a correction that points out that EIA projections are based on different scenarios which may or may not prove out. They’re really not meant to prove out. It’s a government agency looking at possibilities, not the Amazing Kreskin.

Still, Bloomberg sees what the Clean Power Plan means to do, it recognizes that solar has great potential but no market share yet – and misses the obvious player in the energy market. Hercule Poirot would be slapping his forehead.

We get that reporters cannot be expected to know everything and sometimes give too much time to interested parties as interview subjects, but come on, ink slingers, try a little harder.

1 comment:

Kevin Krause said...

I love this post. However, since I work with both nuclear and hydro I would say it is slightly disingenuous to hydro. The DOE says that only 3% of dams generate electricity. The real growth area for hydro will be powering existing dams. Granted they will medium sized at the largest and most will be small, but to say hydro is tapped out, does not really cut it either.